Thursday, October 23, 2008

Lute Olson to Retire

I'm sure you've heard about it by now, but it seems as if Lute Olson has coached his last game at Arizona. According to Jeff Goodman of Fox Sports, Olson will step down as head coach immediately (maybe he heeded our advice) and Mike Dunlap, an associate coach, is expected to be named the interim head coach. It is unclear exactly why Olson is stepping down, but this makes it seem as if it is a health related cause (UPDATE: This NBC Sports article states that it is health concerns that are forcing Olson out, while this is ). Olson will be leaving Arizona with a career record of 780-280 in 25 seasons, taking the Wildcats to the NCAA tournament the last 24 years. He has been to five Final Fours, winning the '97 National Title. 

Regardless of the reason for his retirement, Olson will go down as one of the best coaches of his time. Olson will forever be linked with Arizona basketball as he took a program that was in shambles and turned it into a perennial powerhouse, churning ou NBA draft picks (13 first round pick, 17 second rounders), successful NBA players (Sean Elliot, Damon Stoudamire, Jason Terry, Mike Bibby, Gilbert Arenas, Richard Jefferson, Steve Kerr), and earning the moniker Point Guard U. Before Olson took the reins of this program, it had won just two postseason games of any kind (both upset victories in 1976) and was coming off of a 4-24 campaign. Olson missed the tournament his first season, but reached it every year for the rest of his career, compiling the following resume:

  • 589-188 (.758) record
  • 24 consecutive NCAA tourney's
  • 4 Final Four's ('88, '94, '97 National Champs, '01)
  • 11 Pac-10 Titles
  • 2 National Coach of the Year Awards
Towards the end of his career, Olson seemed to rely too heavily on his recruiting, and earned a reputation as a guy that would just roll the ball out there and let his players play. The last few years have been rough, as Arizona seemed to perpetually be underachieving with the talent on their roster while going through a series of "mishaps", but that doesn't change the fact that Olson should be considered one of the best coaches and program builders in college basketball history. 

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